On March 6, TV Pirveli, a Tbilisi-based channel critical to the Georgian Dream Government aired audio conversations, apparently recorded covertly, in which son of GD founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, rap-singer Bera Ivanishvili, seems to be tasking Anzor Chubinidze, who serves as the Head of the Special State Protection Service (SSPS) since 2014, to humiliate and punish youngsters for online posts insulting Ivanishvili family.
In a separate recorded conversation with Bera Ivanishvili, Irakli Garibashvili, current Prime Minister, seems to be informed about these actions and encourages them.
The Date of the Recording
The date of the recording was approximately placed in 2017 by the TV station that aired it, based on the age of one of the persons whose name is mentioned.
On March 6, MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, speaking on behalf of the Georgian Dream said they were made in 2010, before Bidzina Ivanishvili turned to politics, and were manipulated to distort their meaning. He accused TV Pirveli of fabricating the material “in a KGB-style” to pursue “information terror.”
But before October 2011, when billionaire philanthropist Bidzina Ivanishvili announced his intention to come to politics, his family, including his son Bera Ivanishvili, was widely unknown for the Georgian public. But Bera Ivanishvili made his debut single in March 2011, getting him some attention among Georgia’s netizens.
In 2010, Garibashvili was Bidzina Ivanishvili’s close associate, member of the supervisory Board of Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank, and director of Bera Ivanishvili’s recording label. According to his official biography, Mr. Chubinidze was working at the Protection Police Department of the Ministry of Interior.
In 2017, Mr. Chubinidze was the head of SSPS, appointed by PM Irakli Garibashvili in 2014. Garibashvili resigned as Prime Minister in December 2015 and was not holding any political position in 2017.
The recordings come as the Georgian Dream government and the opposition are trying to relaunch political dialogue with European Council President Charles Michel’s mediation. This is supposed to pull Georgia out of the political crisis which started with the opposition’s refusal to recognize October 31, 2020, Parliamentary election results and aggravated after one of the opposition leaders, Nika Melia was detained for breaking the terms of bail.
Commenting on covert recordings, Giga Bokeria of the European Georgia party said “these people [GD] are dangerous for the future of this country,” without commenting on the contents. Responding to MP Mdinaradze’s claim that the recordings were made in 2010. Bokeria remarked: “Did they act this way even before coming to power?!”
Before the full recordings were aired, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria spoke up against the practice of secret recordings and recalled the lack of effective investigations into similar leaks in the past. Lomjaria said that only after a thorough investigation establishing the authenticity of the tapes, could one assess whether they contain the indication of wrongdoings.
TV Pirveli also featured a comment by Anzor Chubinidze, SSPS Head, who did not reject the authenticity of the tapes outright, but said he could not recall having such conversations with Bera Ivanishvili.